The only thing missing from the morning sky on Saturday was a rainbow, but the leadership team of Bow Valley High School took care of that by adding their own colour to the day.
The Time For Hope Colours Run, May 5, drew 240 participants after an additional 40 people registered the morning of the event for the 5k run. The Mitford Park was highly-charged from the get-go. BVHS alumni DJ White Light added a positive vibe to the atmosphere, while people registered, mingled and stretched for the run ahead.
A few speakers hit the stage before members of the Bow Valley Bobcats put the crowd through a little warm up. Participants coordinated their efforts to create a multi-coloured cloud before dashing off. More colours would greet them at points throughout the course and just in case they didn't get enough, more was available back at the park.
Rain forecasted for the day decided to take the day off and that ward off the need to exercise 'Plan B' by the Time For Hope committee
"I was overwhelmed with the amount of support we received from the community," says Kassidy Gerhardi. "We were so pleased with the turnout that we had and everybody just seemed to embrace the message and understood what we were trying to get across."
"Colours" is the latest of the Bow Valley High School's Time for Hope projects that may change form year-to-year, but have the common goal of having a positive impact on Cochrane. The overarching focus this year was on youth mental wellness. It's not a unique discussion among the school's student and staff, but it's the most comprehensive event to date.
Leadership teacher/advisory Scott Thompson says after there was a tragedy in the school in November the students wanted to do something to encourage mental well-being. They combined the long embraced goal of providing hope and inspiration to people through Time For Hope with an outdoor event, fundraising and having the community as a whole embrace the issue.
"Youth mental wellness is something significant and something we want to step into. The kids were saying we don't want to just talk about it, we don't want to just have ideas, we want to actually do something. Part of the idea of mental wellness is getting outside and getting sunshine. We also know that one of the key elements to healthy mental wellness is a sense of connection and community. It gives them a coping mechanism so by organizing that event we could bring all these factors together in an authentic and fun way."
Following extensive research, the committee decided funds raised from the day would go to help "The Club" initiative of the Boys and Girls Club of Cochrane and Area (BGCCA). About $5,000 was raised.
Augusta Marit, a BGCCA youth worker who represented the club at the run, says it was an impressive event and appreciate the support.
"We're really happy because we're working really hard to fund this new space, but we have a ways to go. So every single event that people put on is a huge step in the right direction."
Fundraising continues to establish "The Club" for youth ages 13 to 18. The Boys and Girls Club aims to give a separate venue for teenagers to hang out, do homework, get tutoring and, if necessary, talk to the youth outreach workers about pressing matters in their lives.
"A safe space for them to go is something that is really needed and we're growing every day. So, the need for this space is definitely a priority."
Gerhardi says about 60 volunteers from the school and community helped stage the event. There were 10 members on the committee and the entire leadership class of about 40 students also got behind the colour run.
This was the 13th annual Time For Hope event of the high school and through the years they've done everything from fashion shows and galas to this run and a community service day.
Gerhardi is graduating this year but she hopes the school will continue with the Colours run next year.
"This is a great event, it's something very straightforward and I'm hoping it's something that the leadership students who are in the younger grades than I plan to take it on again next year. That's kind of our plan for this, that this will become a more annual event, something consistent.
"It was never intended that Time For Hope would be something different each year but we just kept coming up with different ideas. I think this is something that will stick We had a lot of great positive feedback from the community that this is something they'd like to see again next year and our hope and feel is this is an event we'll continue on, so that's definitely great."